Sometimes there is a little confusion when it comes to defining websites and web applications. A lot of people think they are the same, some others say that there is a critical difference between them. Spoiler: there are some differences. And in this article, we will observe each type in detail and figure out what is better to choose if you have been considering settling down on the web.
What is a website
Website (often written as a web site) - is a set of interlinked web pages having a common domain name. All pages of the website usually are easily accessed without signing up. Pages of the typical website are filled with static content and have limited functionality. They are mostly used by companies and individuals just to inform about something or to demonstrate expertise (portfolio websites, callboards, etc.).
Examples of websites
- https://www.intersection.is/ - beautiful and simple website of an advertising agency.
- http://www.cocodibu.de/ - website of a German PR agency.
- https://www.intexsoft.com/ - and of course we cannot but mention our own website.
What is a Web App
Web app (or web application) is a software that can be accessed with any web browser. Web applications consist of frontend and backend parts. They usually have much broader functionality than websites, such as - sign up, calculators, interaction with databases, etc. Unlike typical websites, web applications’ pages are dynamic and they are much easier to scale.
Examples of web applications
- https://www.facebook.com/ - well-known social network.
- https://app.grammarly.com/ - web application for copy-proving. This one is actually a progressive web application. You can learn more about this kind of applications here.
- https://web.whatsapp.com/ - web version of widely used messenger.
Website vs Web App
Now let’s consider the key characteristics of each type.
Key characteristics of websites
- Websites’ pages are mostly static;
- all content is available for any visitor;
- user authentication is not necessary;
- a website doesn't need to be pre-compiled;
- minor changes never require complete re-compilation and deployment - the administrator can just update the HTML code;
- users cannot affect website functioning.
Key characteristics of web apps
- Web applications’ pages are mostly dynamic and designed to interact with end-users;
- in most web applications, user can manipulate the restricted data and change application settings;
- web applications usually demand user authentication, as they may contain restricted content;
- web apps have more complex functionality than websites;
- the web app must be precompiled before deployment;
- all changes require re-compilation and deployment of the whole project.
What to choose: a website or web app?
When making a decision on what to develop, you should consider the needs of your business first and foremost. If you need something static and simple and there is no need for user interactions, just text information with some pictures - choose a website. They are usually much faster and cheaper to create.
However, if your business involves complex processes demanding richer functionality like authentification, order processing, calculations, payment system, banking operations, or some similar things - you definitely need a web application. Remember: the more complex it is, the more time and budget the development will take. When it comes to big complex projects, we usually recommend our clients to start with an MVP approach to check if there is a demand for a specific product and get user insights for further improvements and planning of marketing activities.
As you can see, each type has its own characteristics. They have a lot in common, but web applications usually are more complicated and resource extensive than websites. When choosing what to develop consider your business goals and match them with website and web app abilities.
We hope this post was helpful. If you need advice or development assistance contact us via the form below.